For Freedom’s Promise, which operates in the critical yet crowded anti-human trafficking space, clearly answering that question meant the difference between thousands of lives saved in Cambodia versus closing up shop altogether. While the programs in country led to clear transformation in so many lives, describing the work and impact to an audience totally unfamiliar with day-to-day life in Cambodia proved challenging.
For years, the team asked the question - “How do we describe what we do?” - in a way that connects with the networks back home who carry the financial, volunteer time and expertise we need. Calling in Tailored Fundraising advisors, eight board members and the former executive director met for a strategy session to determine whether the organization should merge with another group or if they could identify that clear mission and vision.
“We knew what we were doing on the ground in Cambodia was good and really important,” said Tiffany Atkinson, a former Board member who is now the organization’s executive director. “We just did not have a clear path as to how to get the work translated to messaging that would build capacity stateside.”
Four questions during that strategy session turned the tides. Thankfully, the board engaged them before they took a vote:
Why do we exist?
What do we do? What do we not do?
How will we succeed?
What is most important, right now?
Though the challenges Freedom’s Promise faced included the very real need to build financial support so the work could grow, the questions they worked through that night were not financial in nature. Yet they are inextricably tied to the overall health of the organization first, and then the financial stability, because their answers reveal the critical connection between an organization’s mission and its donors. It’s that connection that can lead organizations to (re)discover their purpose, (re)frame their approach to fundraising with a Biblical mindset, tell a motivating story and create plans that engage donors and maximize impact.
“You can ask questions all day long and keep plugging away to the point of exhaustion, but one of the best things that happened to Freedom’s Promise was our humbling of heart and bringing in help. With the guidance of our Tailored team, we received outside perspective, clear direction and goals, and coaches who walked alongside us all as we begin to implement the strategy and then begin the fundraising needed to carry it out,” said Tiffany.
Three months of donor research, developing a Strategic Funding Plan, and creating a consistent message for all communications ensued. Further coaching helped Tiffany and others translate their unabashed belief in the work of Freedom’s Promise into a relationship-based fundraising strategy.
After a couple years of focused, hard work, the organization began doubling in capacity - financially and staff-wise - for about 3 years and now are steadily increasing both their operations and their impact.
Even through website refreshes, transitioning the Board of Directors from a working board to governing, new programs and programs ended, changing staff members and even challenges resulting from the region’s political unrest, the mission of Freedom’s Promise thrives. And so do the men, women and children in Cambodia who will now never know the life of a slave.